A new study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that students are replacing traditional cigarettes with e-cigarettes, with the rate of e-cigarette use among high schoolers jumping from 4.5 percent in 2013 to 13.4 percent in 2014. Meanwhile, the rate of cigarette use dropped from 12.7 percent to 9.2 percent.
The CDC's Director Tom Frieden called the study "alarming." "What's most surprising is how incredibly rapid the use of products other than cigarettes has increased," he said. "It is subjecting another generation of our children to an addictive substance."
The data can be interpreted differently by two different camps: tobacco control advocates claim that the rise of e-cigarettes means that their efforts at reducing youth smoking are being thwarted. Meanwhile, e-cigarette advocates claim that the new technology is diverting young people from cigarettes in a way that is ultimately positive for public health.
Reuters' Toni Clarke reports:
The data was drawn from the 2014 National Youth Tobacco Survey which showed current e-cigarette use, defined as use at least once in the past 30 days, surpassed current use of every other tobacco product for the first time.
It was not clear how many e-cigarette users were previously smokers and had switched. Altogether, 4.6 million middle and high school students were current users of any tobacco product. Of those, 2.2 million used at least two products.
"Previous studies should have served as warning bells to the federal government that FDA oversight of all tobacco products was urgently needed,” said Harold P. Wimmer, National President and CEO of the American Lung Association in a statement. “Today’s study highlights the consequences of allowing these products to remain without oversight.”